Royal Air Force Pilot Loses Life After Supermarine Spitfire Crashes Near RAF Coningsby

Photo Credit: Alan Wilson / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo Credit: Alan Wilson / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

A Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot has died after the World War II-era Supermarine Spitfire he was manning crashed in a field near RAF Coningsby. The incident occurred shortly after takeoff on May 25, 2024, after the aircraft suffered what’s been described as “a catastrophic event” at “low level.”

Eurofighter Typhoon taking off
RAF Coningsby, where the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) is headquartered. (Photo Credit: Cpl. Andrew Seaward / MoD / Wikimedia Commons / Open Government License v1.0)

According to Lincolnshire Police, the crash occurred around 1:20 PM on May 25, in a field on Langrick Road, in Coningsby.

The pilot involved, Squadron Leader Mark Long, was slated to take over the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) in 2025. The group’s aviators perform flights and demonstrations between May and September each year in a host of WWII-era aircraft, including Spitfires.

The pilots’ goal with the displays in to pay tribute to the 1.2 million individuals who served in the RAF from 1939-45.

Mark Long standing beside a Supermarine Spitfire
Squadron Leader Mark Long, a member of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. (Photo Credit: Royal Air Force / News Release)

In a statement posted to the RAF’s official website, Group Captain Robbie Lees, Commander Display Air Wing, paid tribute to Long, writing:

“It is with great sorrow that I must confirm the death of Squadron Leader Mark Long.

“Mark was a Typhoon pilot here at RAF Coningsby and for the last four years, he has been a pilot with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. A great friend, colleague, and a passionate, professional aviator he will be sorely missed by all that knew him.

“An investigation into the cause of this tragic event has now begun. The RAF will not be offering any comment on the accident until that investigation has concluded, and likewise, we ask others not to speculate.

“I would like to extend a sincere thank you to the RAF personnel and our emergency services colleagues who responded so swiftly yesterday.

“Our thoughts remain with Mark’s family and friends to whom we offer our deepest sympathies. We ask that their privacy be respected at this tragic and shocking time.”

Supermarine Spitfire in flight
Supermarine Spitfire MK356, the aircraft involved in the crash. (Photo Credit: Airwolfhound / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)

According to The Telegraph, Long joined the RAF in 2003, with the early years of his career seeing him deployed to the South Atlantic and the Baltic. He was subsequently assigned to 29 Squadron, with whom he served as a flight commander.

In 2021, Long became qualified to fly the Spitfire and, like other members of the BBMF, volunteered his time while continuing to perform his regular day-to-day duties.

Several key figures in British society have released statements regarding the crash.

The Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Kate, wrote on X, “Incredibly sad to hear of the news this afternoon from RAF Coningsby. Our thoughts this evening are with the pilot’s loved ones, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and the wider RAF family.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also posted on the social media platform, “Awful news to see the life of a serving RAF pilot cut short in this tragic event. My thoughts are with their family and loved ones.”

A spokesperson from the Kent Battle of Britain Museum wrote in a statement, “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the pilot who tragically lost his life in the Spitfire crash at RAF Coningsby yesterday afternoon, 25 May 2024. The Spitfire concerned was a Mk IX, Serial No MK356, which spent 16 years as the Hawkinge Gate Guardian Spitfire from 1945-December 1961. Sadly and tragically, now she is also a memorial to another lost pilot.”

Supermarine Spitfire in flight
Supermarine Spitfire MK356, the aircraft involved in the crash. (Photo Credit: Airwolfhound / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)

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The RAF has told the media that a “comprehensive investigation” will take place into the cause of the crash.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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